On Monday, Kenny Pickett had his pro day at the University of Pittsburgh. The Eagles were there, as were the Panthers, who hold the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Falcons (No. 8) and the Seahawks (No. 9). On the previous day, Sunday, Pickett had meetings with the Steelers (No. 20), Seahawks, Titans (No. 26), a whole slew of folks from the Washington Commanders (No. 11), the Saints (No. 18) and the Eagles (No. 15, No. 16 and No. 19) were last.
One thing that needs to be squashed: No NFL team asked the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Pitt standout about his hand size, nor did they ask Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi.
“No one is asking Kenny, and no one is asking me about his hand size, there’s not a coach, or GM, or a scout who has said one word about Kenny’s hand size,” Narduzzi said. “It’s a media thing, which is what we thought. The Eagles are obviously interested. A lot of teams are interested. He may not get out of the top six.”
Instead of entering the draft last year, Pickett opted to return to school. It turned into a profitable choice. Pickett hauled in the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, was named second-team Associated Press All-American, ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year and was among the finalists for the Heisman, along with taking a Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year and Davey O’Brien Award.
Pickett brought Pitt football back to national prominence with a record-breaking year by passing for 47 touchdowns in leading the Panthers to their first ACC championship. He ranked sixth in the FBS with a school-record 4,319 passing yards and fourth with 334 completions (497 attempts, 67.2 percent); among with an ACC-record 42 passing touchdowns, against seven interceptions. He also smashed Pitt’s career records for passing yards (12,303) and NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino’s record for career touchdown passes (81).
“Kenny has shown everything, he has the talent, the grit, the feet, the arm, he’s the complete package,” Narduzzi said. “There are other quarterbacks out there who are good players, but no one more complete than Kenny Pickett. I had a bunch of scouts tell me there’s no one more competitive than Kenny Pickett. I would be shocked if there is another quarterback taken (in the NFL Draft) before him.
“All of these NFL teams throw out smoke screens, how they like certain guys, and it’s kind of like poker, right? No one has their poker faces on when it comes down to Kenny. I’ve had several scouts tell me that there is no one (in this draft) more prepared than Kenny is. I had one GM tell me that they see Kenny going No. 6 to Carolina. Kenny is a leader, he’s someone guys rally around, and he will make everyone around him better.”
Pickett is a vocal leader, Narduzzi said, who when he speaks, people listen.
“When you think about leadership, you think about Kenny,” Narduzzi said. “Kenny Pickett is going to make someone a very good quarterback and he’s going to be there for the next 10 years. The Eagles are interested. But like I said, a lot of teams are interested.”
Pickett, who’s being projected to go as high as No. 6 to Carolina to the early-20s, around where the Steelers pick, might not be there when the Eagles select at No. 15. Or will Eagles’ general manager Howie Roseman pull off another deal to move up and get him?
It’s truly anyone’s guess as the NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28 nears.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.